As a lifelong denizen of the Kennebec watershed and a professional fishing guide, I agree with just one thing in Sen. Brad Farrin’s July 12 column (“Dam removal would hurt Maine economy”). “We must strike a reasonable balance between human activity and its impact on the natural world.”

Yes, dam removal will mean a need to replace the water intake for the Sappi mill, just as water intakes for mills were replaced when other Maine dams were removed. That’s plumbing, and should be a condition for any dam removal permit.

I grew up while this same debate was raging over the Edwards Dam in Augusta, and local politicians argued — as Farrin does — that dam removal would wreck Augusta’s economy. It didn’t. Instead, Edwards Dam removal brought a dead river back to life, and now the city of Augusta has a downtown waterfront that has been transformed by embracing the river.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission just analyzed what fishways on these dams would mean for salmon: an increase from the current average of 35 spawning salmon in the Sandy River all the way up to a whopping 36. That’s the path to extinction. Sen. Farrin talks about balance and Brookfield tries to greenwash these dams by calling them “clean hydro.”  That’s spin. Reality? Brookfield is killing this river.

We speak for these salmon on the endangered species list because of non-management of their critical habitat.

Michael Jones

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